Two men being trained to hang people

The “training programme” being conducted for two newly-recruited  hangmen does not specify the imminent reintroduction of the death penalty, according to officials.

Commissioner General of Prisons P W Kodippili told The Nation that the “training programme” was mainly designed for the two men to be educated on the rules and regulations related to the prisons department , adding that it was not a 14-day crash course at “hanging people.”

The first two weeks' training programme commenced at the Centre for Research and Training in Corrections at the Welikada Prison in Colombo on Friday, February 1, for the two recruits.

The training programme for the two hangmen, however, did include “special elements” that were unique to the nature of their work, Media Secretary to the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Iroshan Preethikumara acknowledged.

“These two are ordinary people. You cannot expect an ordinary person to simply step up and take life of another human being. Therefore, the programme includes elements such as psychological training for them,” he explained.

Preethukumara added that mechanics of operating the gallows as part of the programme was also being taught to them.

If the government did decide to reintroduce the death penalty then it’s the duty of the Prisons Department to be ready for it, he pointed out.

“If the prisons population was to suddenly increase by 1,000, we are duty bound to accommodate those inmates. Likewise, if the government decided to reintroduce the death penalty, we need to implement it. That is why this process is now in motion,” he said, and stressed that this did not mean reintroducing the death penalty was imminent.

The Prisons Department last year called for applications for hangmen posts in Welikada and Kandy’s Bogambara prisons and from around 175 applicants the two recruits currently undergoing training were chosen.

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